RONAN — A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes who says he was wrongly arrested by Ronan police has filed a lawsuit alleging the city violated his constitutional rights by hiring at least one unqualified officer.
Anthony Chaney filed the lawsuit earlier this month against the city, its police department, mayor, former Police Chief Daniel Wadsworth and his son Trevor Wadsworth. Chaney alleges he was handcuffed by Trevor Wadsworth and told he was under arrest on July 14, 2013, despite the fact that Wadsworth had not undergone the required training to be a police officer.
No charges were ever filed against Chaney, who said he was struggling with his brother as he suffered an episode with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Chaney seeks to have the lawsuit declared a class action on behalf of anyone else who might have been arrested or subject to search or seizure by Trevor Wadsworth or any other ineligible police officers.
Two days after Chaney's arrest, and as a result of an earlier investigation, the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards & Training (POST) Council stripped Daniel Wadsworth of his state credentials and suspended him. The POST Council found Daniel Wadsworth falsified records so his son could be admitted to the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.
Trevor Wadsworth left the academy in 2010 after he was unable to prove he had been hired by the Ronan Police Department. The council said Mayor Kim Aipperspach still approved Trevor Wadsworth's hiring in May 2011, knowing he hadn't finished his training.
Officers are required to complete the training within a year of being hired.
The lawsuit says the POST Council sent a letter to Aipperspach in November 2012 saying Trevor Wadsworth was ineligible to be a police officer because he had not completed academy training.
The lawsuit also says Trevor Wadsworth used unnecessary force to restrain and arrest Chaney and that the city and its police department disregarded the need to train police officers. It asks for a jury trial and seeks compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees.
The mayor did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press on Tuesday.